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Picking a web browser Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox Which Browser Is Best? Edge vs. Chrome vs. Opera vs. Firefox The browser you're using right now may not be the best one for you. The browser arena changes so frequently that your conclusions from comparisons made last year may be completely wrong this year. Read More can be tough. They all have pros and cons, and if you’re like me, you hop between them every so often just because you can. But there’s no doubt about it: one browser is far more popular than the others (with a desktop market share of 58 percent) and that browser is Chrome.

There are many reasons to love Chrome, and I’ve highlighted some of them in our Chrome vs. Firefox comparison Chrome vs. Firefox in 2016: Which Browser Is Right For You? Chrome vs. Firefox in 2016: Which Browser Is Right For You? I want to explore why people might prefer one over the other, and hopefully those reasons will shed some light on features and aspects that you may not have considered before. Read More , but there’s one feature that tends to get overlooked: the ability to have multiple user profiles. And yes, user profiles are useful even when you’re the only one that uses your computer.

What Are Chrome Browser Profiles?

The user profile feature isn’t new. First released in Chrome 16, way back in late 2011, we’ve been able to take advantage of them for a while now — yet I have to admit that I’d never even given them a try until earlier this year. And boy, have I been missing out!

A Chrome user profile allows you to maintain all of your browser details as one distinct unit: apps, extensions, settings, browsing history, bookmarks, saved passwords, themes, and open tabs. Profiles are launched as separate Chrome windows, and each window only uses the details for its particular profile.

One bonus is that user profiles are synchronized with Google’s servers. Any change you make on one machine (e.g. install a new extension) will apply anywhere else you use Chrome as long as you use the same user profile.

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This also comes in handy if you have a Chromebook How to Make Your Chromebook More Secure in 7 Easy Steps How to Make Your Chromebook More Secure in 7 Easy Steps You can easily claim Chromebooks are the most secure laptops on the market. However, that doesn't mean you can't improve their security. Here are four ways to make your Chromebook even more secure. Read More (or ever plan on getting one) because each user profile can be a separate login account on the device. Even with a Chromebook, user profiles stay synced between your devices.

How to Add a New Chrome Browser Profile

  1. Launch Chrome.
  2. In the three-dot menu, select Settings.
  3. Scroll down to the People section.
  4. Click Add person. Select a picture, give it a name, and click Add. Make sure Create a desktop shortcut for this user is enabled before you add! This allows the nifty trick below.

To switch between profiles, look to the top right of the Chrome window and you’ll see a button in the title bar with your current profile name. Click it to browse and switch to other profiles. (On Mac, you switch profiles by going to the People menu instead.)

Here’s the aforementioned nifty trick: On Windows 10, if you created a desktop shortcut at the time of creating a new profile, you can right-click and select Pin to Taskbar to add that specific profile to your Taskbar. As you can see above, I use four separate profiles and each one is individually pinned.

5 Chrome Browser Profiles to Start Using Now

To see how Chrome user profiles can make your life easier, here are a few profile types that I’m using right now (or have used in the past). You might be surprised by some of the benefits you can start reaping right away.

1. Work Profile

A long time ago, I used to designate Firefox as my “main” browser and Chrome as my “work” browser because I have a Chrome-only work-related extension. This worked fine, but I’d often lament the fact that I couldn’t use Chrome for anything other than work.

Now that I have a separate profile for work, I can freely use Chrome for other things. But the greatest benefit is that I’ve become far more productive because the work profile doesn’t have any distracting bookmarks or tabs. It helps me slip into “work mode” significantly faster, too.

2. Hobby Profile

Since user profiles have their own unique bookmark collections, I’ve found that separate profiles for different hobbies are awesome. Gone are the days where I had thousands of bookmarks in Chrome, organized into a messy hierarchy of a hundred folders and sub-folders.

Instead, I now have a blogging profile where I store blogging-related bookmarks. I also have a main profile where I store personal interest bookmarks, such as reference articles or cooking recipes. If you’re working on a long-term project (e.g. thesis paper), you could also use a separate profile for collecting research bookmarks.

Image Credit: Stefano Garau via Shutterstock

3. Social Media Profile

Bookmarks aren’t the only unique aspect of each profile. Indeed, each profile also maintains its own set of cookies What's A Cookie & What Does It Have To Do With My Privacy? [MakeUseOf Explains] What's A Cookie & What Does It Have To Do With My Privacy? [MakeUseOf Explains] Most people know that there are cookies scattered all over the Internet, ready and willing to be eaten up by whoever can find them first. Wait, what? That can’t be right. Yes, there are cookies... Read More — tiny files that sites can use to identify you when you come back later. For example, when you log onto a forum and check “Remember Me,” a cookie is used to store your identity.

Now consider a site like Twitter. Imagine you have three accounts: one for work, one for your novel-writing pseudonym, and one for your game development shenanigans. Juggling all of these can be a pain. Not to mention all of the other accounts associated with each endeavor (e.g. Twitch, Facebook, GitHub, cloud storage, etc).

By keeping separate profiles, you can stay logged into all relevant sites on a per-endeavor basis. For example, your novel-writing profile could be on Twitter, Goodreads, and Dropbox while your game development profile could be on Twitter, GitHub, Twitch, and a different Dropbox account. Switching is as simple as launching the other profile.

4. Travel Profile

A travel profile is useful in two ways: first, you can store travel-related bookmarks without cluttering up your other profiles, and second, you may be able to grab flight tickets at cheaper prices.

When you shop for tickets online, sites sometimes use cookies to track whether you’ve seen a flight before and then bump prices up when you come back later 5 Rules To Finding Cheap Airline Flight Tickets 5 Rules To Finding Cheap Airline Flight Tickets Who says you can’t fly for cheap? Sometimes it comes down to whether or not you click the right links, search the right terms, or pick the right times to search the web. Read More .

You can also get around this by using private browsing mode, but I prefer the travel profile method because of the bookmark collecting bonus.

Image Credit: tanuha2001 via Shutterstock

5. Extensions Profile

If you’ve ever felt like Chrome has slowed down over time, one likely culprit is an abundance of installed extensions. Every extension needs some CPU and RAM to function properly — some more than others. If you have too many installed at once, they can impact browser performance 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Install Lots Of Browser Extensions [Opinion] We all love our browsers, and we all love the extensions that you can install with them. We love browser extensions because they allow us to do what we want our browser to do that... Read More .

Remember that each Chrome profile has its own set of installed extensions. This helps prevent clutter and overload, making sure that each profile only has the extensions needed for that context.

One example could be the website-blocking extension StayFocusd: maybe you only need it when working, so you only keep it on your work profile. Similarly, you may want to keep shopping-related extensions like CamelCamelCamel and ReviewMeta on a shopping profile.

Other Chrome-Related Tips You Might Like

After learning about user profiles (and picking up a new Chromebook), I’ve come to appreciate Chrome a lot more. The idea may seem insignificant at first, but they really are worthwhile on a day-to-day basis.

Other aspects of Chrome that I like: the built-in Task Manager Why Everyone Needs to Be Using Chrome's Best Feature Why Everyone Needs to Be Using Chrome's Best Feature Chrome has a lot of useful features, but one stands out as so useful that every single person should learn how to use and take advantage of it. Read More , the helpful keyboard shortcuts 15 Essential Chrome Shortcuts That Everyone Should Be Using 15 Essential Chrome Shortcuts That Everyone Should Be Using The key to having a good time with Google Chrome is learning all of the essential keyboard shortcuts that will make your life easier. Read More , and both Guest Mode and Incognito Mode Guest Mode vs. Incognito Mode in Chrome: What's the Difference? Guest Mode vs. Incognito Mode in Chrome: What's the Difference? Chrome offers Incognito mode and Guest mode for private browsing. While they're similar, some key differences separate them. Here's when to use which one. Read More . Note that Chrome tends to use more CPU than other browsers, even right out of the box, so you should check out these tips for reducing Chrome CPU usage 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Chrome's CPU Usage & Battery Drain 3 Quick Tips to Reduce Chrome's CPU Usage & Battery Drain Is Chrome using too much CPU and draining your battery? There may be a way for you to reduce its impact. Read More .

Will you be using Chrome user profiles now? If you already do, how do you use them? What profiles have you set up? Let us know in a comment below!

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  1. Pam
    June 2, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Juts getting around to implementing this excellent tip. When I switch to my newly-created "Work" profile, I'm prompted to sign in. Should I create a new account for this new profile, or use my existing account, or ??

    I want to keep work and personal stuff separate, mostly for my own sanity, not due to any great concern about work IT department knowing my personal business.

  2. Paul Anderson
    May 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    Another great and informative article by JL. These are wise tips; I agree with you. To answer "how do you use them" ~ I've been using profiles for about five years now, and I have helped others do this same thing:
    Set-up a business profile; that is, your real name and other legal data, so you can use it for banking and online shopping; anything/everything that involves your bank data and SS number and so on. Only use a PC at home on a secured system, and only ethernet-connected. My Linux-OS NUC-PC has never been (and never will be) connected to the Internet via my home wireless system. Keep all credit/debit card data (and other personal business data) only in that profile.
    Thus, my Android phone is connected (synced) to another profile; a partly pseudonymous social profile. It has no such personal/banking data within it. I do not shop or bank on my phone. Even if it were hacked they'd only get social-level passwords. Same with my Chromebook, which is used on public WiFi's. You want to isolate and insulate your personal business from everything else you do. Another wise profile option mentioned would be as an employee if you are one. You can always email yourself from one profile/gmail to another where relevant.
    As for Internet privacy, there really is no such thing as total anonymity (your ISP is that all-seeing eye, unless you VPN all the time), nor is there any concern either, unless you're a billionaire as well as a political threat of some kind. Major entities like Google simply cannot invest their time looking into your life (as important as you might imagine you are); they have countless billions of accounts, and of all kinds, and 57k employees. The single most intrusive thing that can be done on the Internet, by any individual, is to have a Facebook account: I strongly discourage having one. Use an ad-blocker always (I currently like uBlock Origin) and simply avoid sites that restrict or scold you for using it, because there's a zillion other sites to use instead.

  3. ReadandShare
    May 4, 2017 at 1:58 am

    Not sure if this actually keeps my browsing more private (or not) - maybe Lee can enlighten me?? I use two profiles:

    1. Surfing Profile: I use this browser profile for regular use. All Google cookies are strictly forbidden. I also use Adblock, Ghostery and ScriptSafe to block ads, 3rd party cookies and trackers. I like to keep my surfing habits private - even if they are all legitimate.

    2. Google Profile - this is where I do "all things Google" - Gmail, Google Voice, Maps, etc. All cookies are blocked, except for specific Google cookies that are absolutely necessary. Here, I don't care as much if Google is tracking me using Google's services.

    • ReadandShare
      May 4, 2017 at 6:37 am

      Oops, sorry, Joel - I meant to address you by your first name in my post above.

      • Joel Lee
        May 4, 2017 at 7:26 pm

        Hey ReadandShare, I'm not 100 percent sure on this but I think you should be fine as long as your "private" profile itself isn't logged in or synced to Google within Chrome. Then again, it depends on how much Google is actually tracking with the Chrome browser.

        I don't know for sure but if Google collects PC information, location data, IP data, or any other info like that, I suppose it's possible that Google could discern that your two profiles belong to the same end user. But whether that's actually the case? Who knows. :(

  4. td
    May 3, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Firefox has had profiles for quite a long time. But you need to restart to switch between them. And the FF profile manager isn't the easiest to find and use. I also found that the files corrupt easily.